Over the last several months, members of the CBn Forums have been reviewing all the James Bond 007 films in the “Countdown Threads“. If you wish to join in on the forum discussion all you have to do is register – it’s free and only takes a minute. Now here are some selected reviews, varying in opinion, of the twentieth official James Bond film: Die Another Day…
‘Die Another Day’ by Loomis
The least pretentious, most lavish, most varied and most entertaining of the Brosnan outings, a throwback to the epic fantasy Bondage of You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Brosnan gives his most relaxed and confident performance as 007 – never has a Bond actor left the series on such a high note (if he has indeed left). Not a film to excite the intellect, but there’s a colossal amount of energy here (it’s arguably the most exciting cinematic rollercoaster ride of nonstop thrills and spills since the first Die Hard), and plenty of visual flair, thanks in no small part to director Lee Tamahori. If you’re looking for another From Russia With Love, you’ll be disappointed; approach Die Another Day as a fun “Bond’s greatest hits” compilation (it’s replete with references to its 19 predecessors) and you’re likely to have a very good time. Not vintage 007, then, but certainly one heck of a karaoke evening.
‘Die Another Day’ by hrabb04
The GOOD: Pierce Brosnan gets his wish for some of this film, by making Bond a gritty, tough Bond who gets the hell beat out of him, but somehow finds it in himself to complete the mission and save the day.
The swordfight at Blades is outstanding, recalling the brutality of the Sean Connery fights. The stunt doubles are hardly noticable here, thank God.
Everything in the movie up until oo7 goes to Iceland is outstanding. We are getting the Fleming we want, and we know we can only have it good for so long.
Miranda Frost is really good, though the idea of a traitor is an old one. She is still foxy! Too bad she wasn’t the main and only girl. Having Bond have to kill her in the end, and then end the film by himself would have been a good ending.
When David Arnold’s score works, it works well! When he tries to conjure up John Barry, he’s good.
The BAD: Halle Barry may have won an Oscar, but that doesn’t mean she has a future as an actress. (PS, the Oscars are more about political [censored]-kissing than any merits someone has as an artist). This film marks the first one in her trip down the ladder, down the drain, and into career free-fall.
The editing from the Tony Scott/Jerry Bruckheimer school is totally wrong for Bond, and ruins many scenes. What is the point of it, other than to say, “Hey, look what we can do!”
The special effects take a nose dive here, and you would think we were back in the days when they cut corners in this dept–think of the roman candles and model kits from Diamonds Are Forever.
The CGI surfing has no place in the script, in the movie, or anywhere near Bond. There is no point to it other than to say,”Look what we can do!” Someone should have dragged out the board and conjured up the spirit of Dick Maibaum and said, “Dick, we’re in a big pickle with this script! What should we do?”
The ending where The Emperor uses his force lightning on Bond is idiotic, conjuring up horrific memories of the sci fi lunacy of Moonraker.
When David Arnold’s score doesn’t work, it’s like listening to a driver’s ed student trying to learn how to operate a stick shift. As Dodger Moored says, “Can you play any other tune?”
All in all, a frustrating Bond, the weakest of the Brosnans. Thank God for DVD. You can just jump to the good parts.
‘Die Another Day’ by Major Bloodnok
It was close between this and Moonraker. Too lame a story. Too many bad jokes. A beautiful car is turned into an absurd joke. Moneypenny comes off as deviant. The visual effects are ridiculous. The villains are forgettable.
That is, for a Bond movie. It’s still better than most films and the use of The Clash was a nice touch.
‘Die Another Day’ by ACE
A DIE ANOTHER DAY OPINION BY ACE
A new Bond film has a lot that can be criticized. Some fans see that as their job. If a Bond film does its job, I am lost in the moment and become a little boy again. Sure, I can pick it apart afterwards but then no film would survive such close inspection. And what would be the point? If I didn’t like something, I would not post on fan sites saying as much. I save my enthusiasm for accentuating the positive not bitterly promoting the negative. My first cinematic impression is the distilled essence of my opinion. I remain a fan, still crazy after all these years.
It’s Called The Future So Get Used To It
When Daniel Kleinman’s bullet shoots at us from the gun barrel, the traditional Bond viewer faces the first of many challenges contained in Die Another Day. The pre-title arms deal intervention in the Korean DMZ is ballsy and surprising, echoing that of Tomorrow Never Dies. The set-up is sinister and tense, tightly edited and densely plotted, laying seeds for story elements and motivations. Surfing and hovercraft, new elements to Bond, work well by being both exciting and different. A lovely throwaway attitude towards technology (the GPS knife, the watch detonator) enhances the human performances so the hardware never distracts.
That Bond is captured and tortured in an experimental Kleinman title sequence featuring molten and ice nudes, scorpions and pain soundtracked by an innovative Bond song from Madonna exemplifies elements traditionalists find difficult to accept. Even if the song is not immediately Bondian, credit should be given for going in a fresh direction. After repeated hearings, the song evolves and time will place it comfortably in the Bond cannon. Remember, once upon a long ago, Paul McCartney was an odd choice to pen a Bond song and Live And Let Die was cacophonous noise for traditionalists then.
Of course, traditionalists think that every song should sound like Goldfinger and sung by Shirley Bassey; think M should be a man and that Sean Connery was the only Bond. If traditionalists had had their way, he would have been. And we wouldn’t be here today.
The Mint-Julep Moment
Die Another Day is both a personal journey for 007 to regain a role of honour (after being set up in North Korea) and his manipulation by MI6 as “a blunt instrument” as well as wider tale of intrigue and global power play. Colonel Moon’s plan is to use the Icarus solar space device to destroy the world’s largest minefield between North and South Korea allowing the forces of the North to march into the south, reuniting the country in the first step to create a new Asian empire lead by him as the latest emperor. It is a shame this great scheme is not made very clear in the film itself. A lot of the audience don’t know where Korea is, let alone the region’s turbulent history. Perhaps a bit of grandstanding would not have gone amiss: Colonel Moon, in Orlov mode, crazily lecturing his troops in front of a high-tech map, briefly educating us on what is at stake. Perhaps Damian Falco and M could have had a sparring match about the history of Korea. We would then understand the significance of the DMZ, its minefield and why Icarus is going to change our world. Latter Bond films lack the Goldfinger mint-julep moment where the genius of the villain is revealed and the danger laid bare.
The recent series trend of substituted locations deprives Bond of a genuine backdrops, lessening, somewhat, the international feel of adventure. Hong Kong was particularly artificial although these scenes were deliciously cynical. North/South Korea could have been a fascinating location had the unit actually shot there. However, in DAD, it is drab and could been distinguished with at least a few second-unit inserts establishing where we are supposed to be rather than leaving all the work to subtitles. Of course, the North Korean sequences are meant to be barren and forbidding (and the location is out of bounds to the West) but South Korea could have been a good stand-in and fascinating in itself. Iceland could have been any frozen tundra (and very nearly was) being represented only by Graves’ lair. Imagine if all we ever saw of Japan in You Only Live Twice was Blofeld’s volcano silo. Perhaps Bond could have met a contact in Reykjavik and travelled out to the Ice Palace via that country’s strangely intriguing landscape. However, the logistics and budget and schedule of a film like this impose constraints on locations and there is joy in the vibrant Cadiz-for-Cuba scenes and when London comes calling.
A Sinewy Direction
Lee Tamahori directs with flair and passion and his Bond film takes chances, attempts to shake up the formula and is successful despite certain flaws. His no-nonsense style leaves little time for Bondian panache (save for Hong Kong) but it leavens bizarre and unrealistic concepts like the DNA replacement clinic and the vanishing Aston Martin Vanquish. The first half of the film is sinewy and intriguing, establishing and emphasizing character and story with a consistent thriller tone. Tamahori elicits great performances his eclectic cast. The film loses focus in Iceland with Bond’s escape and return to the Ice Palace and double rescue of Jinx including too much non-story driven action at the expense of character and plot development. Throughout the film we should have seen the military escalation in the DMZ which would pay off with genuine tension at the climax, making the world much more at stake than just a personal tussle between Bond and Graves. The CGI tsunami surfing sequence lacks photo-realism (especially compared to the real pre-title surfing) and remains the only unfortunate inclusion in the film and exclusion from the cutting room floor. Christian Wagner’s stylish, modern editing works well although the MTV cutting in the Vanquish vs. Jaguar ice bullet ballet distracts from the flow of the action and the setting itself. Elsewhere, his style is powerful and economical boiling down action and character efficiently.
Wall-To-Wall – Purvis & Wade – Screenplayed
Neil Purvis and Robert Wade exercise their imaginations by bringing back the bizarre in this Bond with DNA replacement therapy and the Ice Palace. Various story elements gratifyingly emanate from Fleming (Gustav Graves and Miranda Frost, the VR shooting range from Moonraker, M’s attitude towards Bond post-capture from The Man With The Golden Gun) and Bond and other characters are etched out relatively well. There is great dialogue and some funny one-liners and the nods to previous Bond films are inserted subtly (the Q Branch scene containing most is actually one of the best written scenes in the film).
Purvis and Wade have said that this was a consciously post-9-11 Bond (“while you were away [imprisoned in North Korea], the world changed”). There are subtle digs at US global imperialism both in Moon’s dialogue and the Falco character (his berating of M is particularly fun). Jinx needs the President’s permission to enter North Korea. Bond, pointedly, doesn’t. The villain’s caper is presciently topical and appropriately Bondian but under explained.
However, Purvis and Wade do not use all the arrows in the 007 creative quiver. Wall-to-wall action needs tempering with set pieces that invoke tension and suspense (Gumbold’s safe, Bond’s rock climb in For Your Eyes Only, the circus finale in Octopussy). Bond’s relationship with Jinx could have been developed and her character better explained. Bond finales of late tend to be more personal and smaller in scale. Therefore, as a change from recent history, wouldn’t it be good to see a major military conflagration in a stupendous set?
I know there was going to be a finale in an enclosed beach complex based on something in Japan. Perhaps the Ice Palace could have been used in the finale. Imagine a horde of troops with pitons and crampons assaulting the building like ants clambering on the ceiling and down columns, gripping with ice spikes, blowing the complex away with grenades and guns. Think of the surreal camera angles and plausible use of the Ice Palace.
But in terms of originality and tweaking the formula, Purvis and Wade should be congratulated, having come up with some novel Bondian moments. Die Another Day shows that 007 films still succeed as international, action, adventure, mystery thrillers studded with bizarre incident and characters, set 30 seconds into the future.
Writing Through Rock Candy – Pierce Brosnan WAS James Bond
Pierce Brosnan’s Bond has Ian Fleming running through him like writing through rock candy; Bond cleans his Walther P99 and places it under his pillow before energetic, PG-13 kinky sex, Bond smokes (the hazardous Delectados!), drinks (whisky, Martinis), withstands brutal torture, has a tense complex relationship with M and confronts Graves in the savage-yet-civil world of London’s club land. Notice how, when captured in Graves’ office in the Ice Palace and Bond can probably only take out one bad guy, it is Frost he tries to shoot before realizing his gun has been made inoperable. Echoes of Elektra? Although this film allows him obvious drama (his brief ostracism by MI6), Brosnan’s “old-pro’s grace”, especially in Cuba and London, frames a performance of humanity, depth, and stealthy charm.
Chic Cheek – Berry and Pike
Halle Berry’s Giacinta Jordan aka Jinx is the first effective female equivalent to 007 in the entire series. People have said the same thing about Anya Amasova, Holly Goodhead, Pam Bouvier and Wai Lin but screenplay-wise, Jinx is given her own story and thread and functions in the film independantly of Bond. She shoots Alvarez in cold blood and is tortured and has her own fight in the denoument. Jinx runs through the film, driving the story along on a parallel investigation to Bond, employing ruthlessness, gadgets and chic cheek. Her casually brutal execution of Dr Alvarez was surprising and it is she who conquers Bond in his feisty, first-reel bedroom sequence. The part seems to be a victim of rewrites: we don’t know anything about Jinx and her relationship with Bond could been developed if Bond did not have to save her twice in Iceland. However, Berry brings an innate her warmth to her coquettish character, fleshing out more than what was on the page by sheer presence. Her homage to Ursula Andress is fantastic, allowing us to appreciate the magnificent view of both our memory and what is before us. Berry’s Oscar win early in production was lightning in a bottle to MGM who exploited it wisely in the marketing campaign. Berry’s win certainly propelled Die Another Day to the highest-ever Bond gross at the global box-office. Bond is more than capable of keeping such illustrious company. It enhances Bond and Brosnan to interact with strong female characters played by good actresses…
…which brings us to Rosamund Pike’s Miranda Frost who is sharply played with a hauteur belying the performer’s cinematic inexperience. Frost has been overshadowed by Jinx but Pike is convincing and sexy as the icy English rose and Olympic fencing gold medallist. Her scene with M is a wonderful reversal (we were expecting someone else in that office), her sabre fight with Jinx cuts through but her best moment is when she reveals herself to be a double agent in league with Graves in his bio-dome lair. Pike’s line delivery has an elegant edge and Frost is the perfect feminine foil to Jinx.
BTW, Madonna as Verity works very well and her feminist “cock fight” line is witty and makes a good character point. She fits perfectly in with that great tradition of Bond casting from Lotte Lenya, Jimmy Dean, Goldie etc.
An Actual Colonel Sun – Toby Stephens as Sir Gustav Graves
Recently knighted by his adopted country, member of gentleman’s club Blades and chasing land speed records, Toby Stephens’ Gustav Graves is a more-English-than-thou, malevolent adventurer, ostensibly a philanthropist who hopes to change the world by controlling solar rays making him an actual Colonel Sun. Indeed, this is the trick of the knight, for Gustav’s grave plans can only come to fruition after he is transformed from Colonel Moon by DNA replacement therapy. Interestingly, like Elektra King, Graves commits patricide. Stephens gives an energetic, detailed, sneeringly arrogant performance disdainfully mirroring Bond in a not entirely coincidental manner. Bond’s traditional preliminary fencing with the villain is taken literally and the duel at Blades is the most viscerally exciting action sequence in the film and already an instant Bond classic. Mention must also be made of Will Lee Hun, whose original Colonel Moon is lethal and impactful although his latter incarnation’s hatred of Bond is inexplicable since he only meets Bond for a few moments in the pre-title sequence. Maybe there was a reason for that anger therapist: “Get over it, already, Colonel”!
Korea Criminal – Rick Yune as Tan Ling Zao
Rick Yune’s Tan Ling Zao is a Korea criminal whose pre-title diamond mishap and interrupted DNA replacement therapy creates an albino with acne that can be measured in carats. Zao is a compelling and original henchman and Yune is taciturn in a role that requires little. However, Yune presents an effective physical challenge especially in the Cuban clinic fight and when he delivers his “punchline” to Bond.
Dame Judi Dench is this time an unforgiving M (“The only place you’re going is our evaluation centre in the Falklands”), yet protective enough of 007 without compromising Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Samantha Bond’s assertive Moneypenny, while included briefly, is given a stand-out joke in her VR encounter with Bond. John Cleese’s acerbic “Quartermaster” scene is snappy (“Better than looking cleverer than you are”) with no trace of The World Is Not Enough‘s buffoonery. His allusion to his predecessor and the references to previous Bond films in his Underground lab work well by not being too fannish. Colin Salmon’s Charles Robinson is a largely unchanged interpretation. All the regular scenes benefit from adjustments, opening up new avenues for the various relationships to explore. Michael Madsen’s Damian Falco (named after the Tony Curtis character in 1957’s acidic Sweet Smell of Success – a favourite of the writers) has the louche charm of a Mr Blonde of the NSA and his scenes underline the spiky UK/US dynamic to the mission. Emilio Echevarria’s Cuban sleeper Raoul, Michael Gorevoy’s Russian sub-techvillain Vlad and Lawrence Makoare’s Maori sub-henchman Mr Kil are pithy characters and testimony to Debbie McWilliams’ fine casting eye.
David Arnold’s Cuban music is lively and the Jinx motif is as beautiful as the character. Slivers of the James Bond theme spice, but do not overpower, the score. Natacha Atlas provides an interesting ethnic choral sound in some of the Korean scenes. The action music relies more on techno-industrial sounds rather than driving melody and occasionally gets lost in Chris Monro’s hectic sound mix. The DNA clinic action theme works well with omninously descending major chords reminiscent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and A View To A Kill. Bond’s entry to Iceland has a great, sassy horn section propelling us with the Aston and the icebergs. However, Arnold does not allow these separate action or romantic themes to develop which denies his reactive score coherence. This is surprising as Arnold repeats a beautiful theme from the previous Bond (the skiing music – omitted from the soundtrack) at the end of this film. It is also a pity that the proposed Arnold/Don Black song, I Will Return could not find a place in the film other than in instrumental form in the Hong Kong hotel scene. All the previous Arnold/Black Bond songs, in particular the misunderstood Only Myself To Blame, are wonderful snatches of sonic Bond.
Lindy Hemming’s costumes cloak characters with a rich, international look (making Jinx a minx) and placing Bond slightly beyond fashion curve by making him timelessly elegant and not slavishly trendy. Chris Corbould’s special effects are work well in the laser-fight and the destruction of the Ice Palace. He is innocent of the aforementioned CGI stunt sequence. Peter Lamont’s production design is floridly unrealistic and includes his most memorable work in the series; the Ice Palace. A wonderful invention but a trifle underused. Imagine a finale here (see above). The scale of the Eden Project (as Graves’ exotic Ice Palace appendage) is not fully captured and the section of set recreating it is visually unsatisfying compared to the vista the real location could give. The Underground MI6 base is a marvellously authentic conceit and the naval medical bay with indiscernible glass wall is detailed and atmospheric. The exteriors of the Ice Palace are a little drab – all vents and pipes, emasculating the scale of the interior. Having said that, most of the sets are enhanced by David Tattersall’s careful framing. Elsewhere, his photography experiments with the Bond palette. The Korean DMZ has a de-saturated, beige look reflecting the location’s thriller atmosphere. There are some superb shots floating shots of the hovercraft chase. Bond’s black and white flashback of his torture sequence is a series first. The film comes alive in Cuba and London and in the ice-chase in Iceland. Cleverly, when Bond tests his sonic agitator ring, he seems to break the fourth wall between him and the audience.
Traditionalists beware, new ground also gets broken! Die Another Day refines the formula and investigates Ian Fleming’s character subtly. The film’s careful touches and nuances withstand umpteen cinema and DVD tastings and are a tribute to the talents of increasingly, internationally recognized film-makers. The Richard Maibaum truism that “Bond films aren’t written or directed, they’re produced” is still valid (note the recent BAFTA award given to Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli). However, Die Another Day also showcases the work of no less than five recent Oscar winners: Halle Berry, Dame Judi Dench, Peter Lamont (Production Designer), Lindy Hemming (Costume Designer), Chris Monro (Sound). Cineastes will always appreciate a vintage Bond film. And since vintage does not mean stale, the flavours contained in Die Another Day are surprising and varied. According to all the laws of cinema, there should not be a twentieth James Bond film.
In a traditionally shrinking market for franchises, Bond should not have survived the 70’s let alone be not only alive, but thriving in his fifth cinematic decade. Hacks habitually knock Bond, comparing him unfavourably with upstarts (XXX, Austin Powers, Jason Bourne in 2002 alone) in a vain attempt to disprove their impotence. However, as Die Another Day shows for 007, it’s not his time to go. Cinematic legends are not created in a box office summer and if the quality of the 20th film in the 40th year of the most technically innovative, influential and enduring film series in history is anything to go by, the highest number in adventure cinema is STILL 007.
‘Die Another Day’ by DLibrasnow
You would have thought they could have come up with a halfway decent Bond movie given the break of three years, but saddled with the hapless and (apparently) talentless Neil Purvis and Robert Wade instead we have a movie that starts promising enough (the idea of 007 being captured and tortured has some interesting permutations) but quickly descends into tedium and slaphazardly constructed setpieces. In this manner Die Another Day shares a characteristic on #17 on the list Moonraker in that the second half of the movie lets down a promising start. But whereas that movie descended into slapstick and parady this movie descends into something worse–boredom.
Once 007 arrives in Iceland the movie loses all focus and in doing so, also does the audience. It’s almost as if the movie gave up and instead of developing what they had tried so hard to build up, the moviemakers instead obey some misguided rush to push enough tedious action and tie up all the loose ends in an ending that literally is a secondhand ripoff of the climax to the much better 007 picture The Living Daylights.
Unfortunately back in the composers chair is the anti-creative David Arnold and although he (thankfully) keeps the James Bond Theme to a minimum, his score for Die Another Day can only be summed up as serviceable, yet uninspiring.
Bond also has a problem with the girls, after initially being intrerested in the very, very ugly Miranda Frost, 007 finally comes to his senses and hooks up with the very delectible Jinx.
Its the second best Brosnan Bond movie, but given how bad his second and third entries were that is not saying that much.
‘Die Another Day’ by Turn
This recently really slipped down the charts for me after seeing it repeatedly on cable. I can watch the older films on the Spike TV marathons and such and not pick on so many flaws, but I can more and more with Die Another Day, which I really liked when I first saw it.
First and foremost, Jinx is a badly written character. Berry is nice to look at, but this is supposed to be Bond’s equal, so why is she constantly getting captured and only able to slug a bad guy only when he’s surrounded by other baddies? And don’t even get me started on the character’s lines.
The ending is one of the lamest, from the flying jet things to just running aboard a departing plane by cutting through the wires on a guarded air base nobody seems to notice to the ridiculous climax with Bond fighting Robocop.
Wow, that makes 4 movies in a row Brosnan’s Bond needed just the girl to help him defeat the bad guy and his entire army. Makes Connery and Moore look like wimps since they often needed armies of their own behind them.
I actually like the first half. It’s pretty solid stuff, Brosnan is good and the homage stuff only gets old after repeated viewings. Invisible cars don’t bother me, either, and the only thing that really annoys me about the CGI parasurfing is it’s so unnecessary and just seems to be overkill. We know Bond can do amazing things, but sometimes less is more.
‘Die Another Day’ by A Kristatos
Plot: Well, here’s the first of several Bond films that showed great promise, only to lose their way by the end. I must admit though, Die Another Day has grown on me a bit each time I watch it. I may actually one day find it to be a very solid movie, but some good movies have to be ranked lower than others by default. Anyway, a very intriging plot occupies the first half of this movie with Bond seeking revenge toward the hoodlums who set him up early on in North Korea. A great sequence involving torture from the North Koreans, and Bond’s subsequent release via a prison exchange between North Korea and the west makes this probably the most intriging hour of Bond storytelling in the entire series. Alas, the movie could not sustain this intrigue as the second hour degenerated into the third (yes third!) Bond movie involving a space lazer! Add some of the worst CGI effects in modern cinematic history, and you have the makings of a B-movie cult hit!
Although Die Another Day is a blantant ripoff of Diamonds Are Forever, I could not help but think some elements were ripped off from GoldenEye as well. I mean, a second Brosnan Bond movie involving a space lazer with a Cuban connection? Who would have believed this?!
Acting: What saves this movie from being the worst of the bunch is some mostly decent acting and a decent score. While many on CBn have ridiculed Toby Stephens’ performance as unmemorable, I really do like his smugness and disdain for Bond, although I find the scene of him killing his father a bit surreal, almost disturbing, to say the least. Rosamund Pike is great as Miranda Frost, and as in the proceding The World Is Not Enough, the bad Bond girl disguised as ally twist is clever, though not as well disguised as it was in The World Is Not Enough. The same cannot be said for Hallie Berry. She is a good actress, and is nice to look at, but she must have taken dumb pills for this movie! A bad script did not help matters either. At least her theme music in the movie was excellent! Mr. Kill should have been killed from the script before he was even filmed! And just what was up with this Vladimir character anyway? He looked like a refugee from the Dumb and Dumber movie franchise!
Score: Okay, here is another source of contention on this board. David Arnold! Yes, he does exhibit some elements of John Barry, and overall sounds much better than the likes of Eric Sierra, but he lacks the flair of Barry in that many of his orchestral cues lack a cohereant memorable melody. However, I will give Arnold his due here, in that, although long stretches of his Die Another Day soundtrack are mired in a techno blackhole, he does show some signs of finally understanding the proper structure of a Bond score. His Die Another Day soundtrack, has three recurring themes used throughout, ala Barry: The Jinx theme, the Frost theme (first heard in the early hotel scenes) used in her scenes and during Bond’s stay in Cuba, and that terrific Prisoner Exchange sequence, which borrows a cue from The Living Daylights combined with the May Day Bombs Out cue from A View To A Kill. Parts of the Prisoner Exchange theme are also repeated during the Icarus demonstration scene. There is even a trumpet cue reminiscent of early Barry arrangements used in the Cuban Clinic scenes and throughout the movie.
Where am I going with all this? He actually has come up with several themes used to construct a unique sound that can be traced back to a specific movie (Die Another Day), rather than a completely generic soundtrack that borrows heavily on earlier ones. Despite several dull stretches of techno, and some rearranging of his earlier Bond work, Arnold does a terrific job of recapturing some early Barry sounds with these cues that I just discussed. Add to this his rousing cue used during the swordfight scene, and some playful nods of the James Bond theme from earlier Bond movies, he has created the deepest Bond soundtrack of the three. Is it an uneven soundtrack still plagued by too much techno and repeated cues from his two earlier soundtracks? Yes. But there is quite a lot to like on this soundtrack, and it shows that Arnold has the potential to nail it on his upcoming Casino Royale soundtrack, one that should not be too dependent on techno, especially since Casino Royale is supposed to be set in the early days of Bond’s career.
There are too many great moments in the first half of Die Another Day to keep this movie from finishing at rock bottom. An above average soundtrack, an above average villian, and many nods to earlier Bond films make this an entertaining viewing experience. However, ultimately there are too many annoying problems, such as atrocious CGI effects, weak hencemen, overrealiance on sophmoric humor and a weak Bond girl that keep this movie from ranking any higher on my list. Ultimately an entertaining, but average viewing experience.
‘Die Another Day’ by Moonraker
One of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen, it totes one of the worst themes, Bond girl, action stunts, villian, and plot. Halle Berry makes me cringe when ever I see her in the film or in any film for that matter. Gustav Graves isn’t menacing or believable. The stunts or if you really want to call them that since most are computer are dumb and unrealistic. The only things that save the film are the pre-titles, Bond, Miranda Frost, and the car chase.
‘Die Another Day’ by Scottlee
A really good first half, excellent in fact. Then things go downhill after the halfway point, culminating in a horrendously boring and unoriginal ending on a plane. Add this to a dodgy looking CGI parahute stunt just half an hour previously, and suddenly the integrity of your new film is in big trouble. I haven’t even mentioned Halle Berry yet, whose shambolic acting has no place in any film, let alone one as important as this. What on earth were the casting department thinking? Whilst I’m on the subject of casting, let me also point a finger at Michael Madson and say “What the hell were you meant to be in this film? You’re a good actor but your presence here is totally pointless”.
Good points? Well, the pre-credits is entertaining and innovative, and the concept of Bond being captured and turned into a yeti adds a bit of never-seen-before spice to proceedings. The regular M16 staff all have good scenes, the sword fight is good, and Bond’s invisible car leads to an interesting chase sequence with Yao (Although the falling chandelier is a bit naff). Best of all is the inclusion of Rosemund Pike as Miranda Frost. Pike oozes sex appeal and steals your eyes in practically every scene she’s in. Only trouble is, her death scene is stupid, as is the death scene of practicaly every other baddie in the film.
Die Another Day is a decent Bond film on the whole, but it lacks the consistant polish of most of the others in the series.
‘Die Another Day’ by Tarl Cabot
This is the equiviant of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace for me in terms of my fandom being reduced to utter shame. I was horrified by how stupid this movie was, especially after squandering an interesting premise and first half. There was potential in this story to have an entertaining Bond film that breaks the rules and takes advantage of Brosnan’s willingness to stretch Bond’s pshyche. The film started out like a risk taking venture like Licence To Kill but refused to commit to a consistent tone. It’s loud, decadent, tedious and just dumb. It’s corporate Hollywood at it’s worst.
The villian: Is a Korean who gets an genetic makeover (!) so he can do what? Hide? No. Why does he re-invent himself? How does he become a knight in 14 months? Aren’t these writers from the U.K.? The incompetence in this screenplay is staggering.
Halle Berry: Crass one liners and a total absence of romance. She’s nice to look at but not bond girl material. You have to have a little bit of class to be in this series and be memorable.
CGI: The car, the (para)surfing, the high dive, the plane… Bond used to be about superior stunt work and quality minitures. Now it’s become about cartoons (like Star Wars).
Stupid, unneccesary plot twists, lame action, an embarrassing Moneypenny scene, invisable cars, pointless use of North Korea, a terrible song and a wasted potential psychological drama sums up why I LOATHED this movie.
‘Die Another Day’ by tdalton
Die Another Day probably would be much higher up on my list if the producers had just ended the movie right before they got to the ice palace. Up until that point, Die Another Day was on pace to become one of the great Bond films. There was action, there was intrigue, there was Bond being betrayed, Bond being tortured, and the style of the first half or so of the movie was just truly excellent.
That being said. The Ice Palace through the end of this film just angered me so much that I have to consider Die Another Day to be the worst of the James Bond movies. Had the Bond producers finally run out of ideas for settings when they thought up the Ice Palace. Apparently, they were enamored with the ice theme since it had been thought of as a possible title for the previous film, The World Is Not Enough (“Beyond the Ice” was one of the proposed titles, I believe). It is completely unfathomable that a villian would hide out in a structure made completely of ice. It’s stupid, and the Iceland setting was just plain bland anyway. The car chase across the frozen lake was a dud, and was further ruined with slow motion photography and the stupid gadgets that Bond had in his car (an invisible car? Has Bond become such a bad driver that he needs an invisible car to hide from the bad guys?) The Icarus satellite was utterly stupid and totally unrealistic, as well as repetitive. The satellite in GoldenEye was an example of how to do a space weapon correctly. Also, the Robocop looking suit that Graves was wearing at the end is just something out of a stupid science fiction movie, not something that belongs in a James Bond film. If there’s one place that Bond has proved he should not go, it is to outer space or on a mission involving heavy doses of outer space related stuff.
The treachery does not stop here. The supporting cast here is absolutely dreadful. Toby Stephens (a fine actor, but a worthless villian) is terribly miscast here as Gustav Graves. Graves is possibly the worst villian since Drax. He poses no menace to Bond, and I’m not sure why it took Bond so much time to draw blood from him during the duel in the middle of the film. There’s no way that you can tell me that Pierce Brosnan couldn’t beat up that little shrimp in a matter of a minute or two. Rick Yune is equally terrible as Zao, a totally unrealistic henchman. One would think that having a whole bunch of diamonds ripped into your skull would cause you at least by hospitalized, potentially killed, but he gets right up and starts chasing after Bond.
I will say this, though. Halle Berry is THE WORST BOND GIRL IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE. Why on earth the producers picked her to play Jinx is beyond me, when there were many better qualified actresses who could have portrayed the character. Jennifer Garner comes to mind as a much better Jinx than Halle was. I know a lot of people aren’t crazy about Jennifer Garner being in a Bond film, but she would have been much better suited for that role and there is no denying that.
Rosamund Pike was a bright spot in the film, however. Her character should have been given more attention. The fact that she betrayed Bond was treated as secondary once Bond discovered the stupid and impossible to follow plot involving diamonds and Gustav Graves. Bond should have remained more focused on his betrayal than he was, especially since he was so adamant about going after the person who set him up in the beginning of the film. The fact that he seems to forget about this is ludicrous. And, I thought that they should have had Bond kill Miranda Frost at the end since it was her that almost got him killed in the beginning of the film.
The fact that the above complaints ruined what was a promising first half of the film is what really makes me hate Die Another Day. It seemed that, after The World Is Not Enough, that the first half of Die Another Day showed that the producers were moving towards more espionage driven films, but the latter half of this turkey proved that notion to be wrong.
Musically, Die Another Day is a very mediocre film. David Arnold’s score takes a step back from The World Is Not Enough, and the theme song (if you want to call it a song) by Madonna is the worst song ever recorded, period. Who wants to watch Bond being tortured to a dance tune where the singer cries out “Sigmund Freud” over and over again. It was just dreadful, and why the producers allowed it to be used for the film is beyond me.
Finally, Lee Tamahori was one of the worst choices for a director that the producers could have ever made. They should have gone back to either John Glen, Martin Campbell, or Michael Apted. The fact that Tamahori is helming the new XXX movie shows what kind of director he is, and that is the type of film that he should be relegated to. He should never have been bestowed the honor of working on a James Bond film. He almost single handedly ruined the franchise with his lackluster effort on the second half of the film.
‘Die Another Day’ by Vanish
Die Another Day is a Bond film that opens with so much promise, only to derail itself irrepairably a mere 20 minutes into the proceedings. Aside from the fun PTS and the inspired title sequence, nearly every aspect of the film is disasterously poor.
Die Another Day‘s problems, simply stated:
Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan. To his credit, most of the time Brosnan does a decent job, at times even miraculously channeling Connery (see the sunglasses theft in the PTS). Unfortunately, he has plenty of “off” moments that rival his inane psychoanalysis of Elektra in The World Is Not Enough, specifically: The astonishingly poorly-delivered “I’m going after him!!” speech and his unforgivably awful rescue of Jinx in the jacuzzi outside of Graves’ lair. His tearful response to her contrived one-liner is one of the most embarrassing moments in the series.
The Plot. In theory, a rewrite of Moonraker cribbing liberally from Diamonds Are Forever isn’t necessarily a bad idea. It’s an interesting premise, at first, but the Purvis and Wade obviously have no clue how to balance the more outlandish elements of their script and simply opt for a “kitchen sink” approach. The dialogue is beyond terrible and ranks as the very worst of the series by a considerable margin.
Action/Direction. The amped up, MTV/XXX-style editing was dated the second the film premiered, and only looks more woefully out-of-touch as time marches on. Many seemed thrilled by the car chase on the ice, but it goes on forever and only features one remotely satisfying moment, where Bond flips the Vanish to avoid that missle. Lee Tamahori must never be allowed near a Bond film again, as the man shows a tremendous misunderstanding of the Bond universe.
The Girls. Rosamund Pike is terrific as Miranda Frost, simple as that. Halle Berry as Jinx registers as far and away the worst Bond girl the series has ever seen. Berry’s performance is obnoxious and overly confident, as though she’s convinced herself she’s acting in a parody of a Bond film. I could go on and on about the character, but Jinx is best left forgotten.
Music. David Arnold’s score is atrocious, offering bland cues that are hampered by lame techno effects and annoying shrill beats. It often sounds like they allowed a monkey with access to Pro Tools to score the action sequences. Many have lambasted Madonna’s title song, but I actually enjoy it. And I’m not even a Madonna fan. In fact, it’s the only tune in the Brosnan era that stands out, and Arnold wasted the opportunity to build his score around the inspired symphonic flourishes that pop up between the electronica aspects of the song.
I really can’t see the series sinking any lower than this.
To the film’s credit, it does contain one inspired innovation that I simply adore: Moving the plot along during the title sequence. Kleinman’s work on Die Another Day‘s main titles is simply gorgeous, and seeing the torture sequence through the usual sparkly shinyness of the main titles was definitely an inspired choice. Here’s hoping that it’s the only thing from Die Another Day that will carry on into future entries.